Birmingham Designer’s Tips on Living Large in Small Space

Melanie Pounds' bedroom as pictured in House Beautiful

Melanie Pounds is a busy mom of two young girls whose home has been featured in local and national magazines. Melanie graciously agreed to share some of her insight on living large in a small home with BirminghamMom readers after our recent post:

Be organized – This almost goes without saying, but Melanie says a sense of order is essential for her to feel effective, especially with the demands of her schedule and family. 

Set limits – Melanie keeps one of each item she needs and avoids unnecessary duplicates. She rotates the kids’ toys and has found that reading the same few books or playing with the same toy for a few days leads to greater mastery and enjoyment than moving on to another item right away. 

Use your prettiest things – We hear this a lot but Melanie is adamant that you should not be saving your good stuff for some future occasion, especially baby items. Use the keepsakes you’ve recieved, like the monogrammed silver cup for cotton swabs and the silver rattle as a bedside paperweight. Things become sentimental over time because they were part of your life, not because they were kept pristine and wrapped in tissue.

Hide it in plain sight – Melanie has found all sorts of ways to hide away all the stuff that goes with rearing young children. For example, her velvet slipcovered sofa (in all-weather fabric) is pulled out from the wall in the living room, allowing her to tuck the baby swing behind it when not in use.  She keeps extra diapers in the trunk at the foot of her own bed (see photo) so she can change her infant’s diapers in the middle of those occasional long, fussy nights. And my speculation in the previous post was correct – she does indeed have a fabulous vintage basket for the toys.

Marry a good cook – Okay, she didn’t say this, but I concluded from our conversation that it helps a busy mom stay sane. Melanie’s husband is part of a large Italian family and he is the one who uses their professional range most often. I asked if a frozen grocery entree had ever crossed the threshold of her oven and she actually had to pause and think about it! Lucky girl.

I think Melanie’s onto something. We’ve been advised that square footage is the fourth most important rule of real estate value (after location, location, location). With the materials and custom work Melanie designed for her home, it’s apparent she could as easily have used her budget to add square footage. But more space = more maintenance and less time for family. As she points out, “I am really affected by my surroundings” and hence made the decision to opt instead for lovely things that speak to her tastes.

By following these principles (and a support network of family and colleagues that help keep home and work functioning), she’s able to enjoy time with her family in her pretty home. And dinner sounds pretty good, too.

Melanie Pounds Interior Design, 2708 Culver Road, Birmingham AL 35233; phone 205-877-9771